Loyalty is a word that’s often thrown around and is a top value for many. What is loyalty anyway? In short, it’s when you strongly support and stand by a person, organization, or group of people. This can look like the unwavering allegiance you have to your partner or choosing to stand by your child no matter what.
Loyalty is a great quality to have, but it becomes toxic when you betray yourself to prove your loyalty to others. Although having a relationship with others is important, the most important one you can have is with yourself. So, how do you improve the relationship you have with yourself?
A good place to start is with loyalty.
Why Loyalty to Yourself is Important
When you’re loyal to yourself, you strengthen your love for self. It’s a way of treating yourself like the valuable and worthy human you are and teaching others how to treat you.
What happens when you’re blindly loyal to others? In some cases, it puts you in situations where you compromise your values or lose your self-identity. For example, if you have a friend who bullies others but you don’t believe in bullying, blind loyalty can put you in situations where you’re complicit or participating in bullying too. In an attempt to prove to your friend you’ll ride with them through anything, you neglect the core beliefs and boundaries that help you maintain a strong sense of self.
That said, loyalty to yourself is so important because without it, you can end up damaging your self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence.
How to Be Loyal to Yourself
As you can see, loyalty is something you should give to yourself before giving it to others. Now that you understand the basics, here are seven tips you can apply if you’re ready to start being loyal to yourself.
Explore Your Core Beliefs
Core beliefs are the ideas you have about life and the world around you. It is essential to know what they are because most of your thoughts and actions stem from your core beliefs.
For example, if I believe the world is a terrible place, it’s likely because I’ve had negative experiences and have internalized them. Likewise, if you’re always loyal to everyone but yourself, it’s likely a result of core beliefs you have about relationships and love.
To better understand your core beliefs in relation to loyalty, do some journaling and ask yourself these questions. The answers could help you identify some unhealthy core beliefs you have hindering you from being loyal to yourself.
What are my beliefs about loyalty and where did they come from?
Why is being loyal to others important to me?
What would being loyal to myself look like?
What are my beliefs on putting myself first?
What reservations do I have about putting myself first?
What did parents or caretakers teach me about loyalty?
Do my beliefs about loyalty help me love myself better?
2. Get to Know Yourself
You can’t be loyal to yourself if you don’t know who you are. Embark on a journey of self-discovery; explore your likes and dislikes, know what your values are, and assess your life periodically.
Does your lifestyle align with your beliefs? Are you being true to who you say you are? Once you live authentically, being loyal to yourself gets easier. If not, you’ll find you’re a chameleon, constantly changing to fit in with others.
3. Choose Yourself
We are taught so many things growing up, but we’re seldom taught how to choose ourselves. Women, in particular, are taught to sacrifice for their children, parents, siblings, and spouses. This creates deeply ingrained beliefs about how much of a priority we are and often leads to us putting ourselves last.
To be loyal to yourself, practicing putting your needs first. Realize choosing yourself isn’t selfish; it's self-preservation. If you expend all of your resources serving others, you’ll have nothing left for yourself.
4. Set Boundaries
Boundaries are a critical component of loyalty to yourself. If the people in your life don’t understand your boundaries, they can guilt-trip or manipulate you into betraying yourself to prove your loyalty to them. A good example of boundary setting would be telling a friend you’re not comfortable lying for them, despite them believing that’s what loyal friends do.
Setting boundaries teaches people in your life that your needs matter, and they come first. It isn't because you don’t love them; it’s because you love yourself and want to show up as your best self for them.
5. Say Daily Affirmations
When you start being loyal to yourself, you may struggle with feelings of guilt. If you’ve always believed putting others first makes you a good person, doing the reverse is going to be extremely uncomfortable. This can especially be true if you get pushback from those around you and they accuse of being disloyal. Remember, you’re not “selfish” or a “bad person” when you put your needs above that of others. When you pour into yourself first, you have more to give others!
To help the feelings of guilt, start saying daily affirmations that remind you why you deserve to come first. Why? Research shows when you say positive affirmations, certain neural pathways in your brain increase.
A few examples of affirmations you can say include:
I will honor myself
I deserve to come first
I am important
My needs matter
I have boundaries
I have radical self-love
6. Forgive Yourself
When people are disloyal to you, the first response may be to end the relationship. However, you can’t break up with or run away from yourself when the same happens! So, learning to forgive yourself and show yourself grace is key.
Remember, you’re learning a new skill, so be gentle and leave room for mistakes. When you slip up and aren’t loyal to yourself, speak to yourself kindly and know there’s always a chance to try again. You’ve been this way all your life—it will take time to learn a new way.
7. Practice Personal Integrity
When you hear people talk about loyalty, you probably hear them say phrases like, “it’s the principle”. The same applies when you show yourself loyalty. Know what your principles and values are, and don’t compromise them for anyone. How can you do this?
Stand for what you believe in even if it means standing alone
Say no to things that don’t align with your values
Speak up against things you don’t believe in
Personal integrity isn’t an easy journey. Sometimes it will mean losing people you love and standing alone. However, it’s better to be true to yourself than lose yourself trying to please others.
When you make yourself the most important person in your life, you’ll begin to see positive changes. One of them may be attracting people who are loyal to you, respect your boundaries, and encourage you to love yourself.